By Chris Hale, Bama Hammer:
After slowing dragging through the dog days of summer, it’s finally here. We can all look at the calendar and say without any doubt that it’s officially game week. Be ready Dallas Metro. There will be tons of Alabama fans coming your way to make moves on the women, probably drink some, and finish out the trip watching the Tide take down Wisconsin.
By Ken Rogers, Dothan Eagle:
With game week finally here, Alabama is expected to rely on its defense, particularly in the early moments of the season, while an offense with just three returning starters establishes its identity. The defense looks more settled, with seven starters returning. It should also be more versatile with a very deep front that likely will see nine or 10 players in the rotation. “We’ve got quite a few guys coming back,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said as he discussed his defensive line, likely the strongest and certainly the deepest unit on the entire team. “I think we have a good mix in terms of the diversity of types of players that we have – some guys are athletic and rush, while some guys are big and physical and can play inside.”
By Michael Casagrande, al.com:
It’s a question people have asked since National Signing Day. Which Alabama freshman will contribute Day 1? A look at the opening week depth chart reveals seven true freshmen on the two-deep entering the 7 p.m. Saturday game with Wisconsin. Three were at least co-first teamers. But for Monday’s beat writer video, we could each pick just one. Take a look at the video above as I’m joined by fellow AL.com beat reporter John Talty to discuss our picks. Any number of the fresh faces could have qualified for a mention, but these two are safe bets.
By Alex Byington, Montgomery Advertiser:
Reggie Ragland came to Tuscaloosa like many other high-profile recruits and scoffed a bit at “The Process.” Known for his no-nonsense approach to coaching and developing players at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban has preached his philosophy — otherwise known as “the Process” — as a way to get his team playing at its peak potential. Some players can’t handle Saban’s way and are “processed” out of Alabama. But there are many others, such as Ragland, who ultimately embrace “The Process” and utilize it as a way of improving themselves to the point that they eventually earn their shot at playing for the Tide.
By Alex Byington, timesdaily.com:
Ever since he first returned to the field this spring after months recovering from a broken left leg, Kenyan Drake craved a little live contact. But, in Alabama’s effort to bring their senior running back along slowly, Drake spent all spring in a black, no-contact practice jersey. Even during preseason camp, partially because of a sore hamstring that limited him at times, Drake rarely took a legitimate hit at practice. Much to his delight that came to and end last weekend, albeit only slightly.
By Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times:
Alabama probably doesn’t have enough returning starters to justify a ranking this high, but sometimes you just have to bet on the coach. Lane Kiffin was, frankly, bubble-screen brilliant in 2014 as the Crimson Tide offense rewrote the school’s record book. You know what that means: One more quality season could earn Kiffin his fourth head coaching position before age 41. He might make a perfect choice for a school out West willing to give him a second chance … ah, never mind. Alabama could be great this season provided Kiffin gets a little coaching help from the man known for stout defenses.
By Ken Rogers, Dothan Eagle:
Where can you see Rocky Balboa, Captain America, Abraham Lincoln and ESPN personality Scott Van Pelt all in one place? On a college football sideline, of course. They were all characters used last season by various teams on those giant play cards that relay information to an offense that lines up in a no-huddle attack. And while Alabama fans have chuckled at opponents who tried such tactics at Bryant-Denny Stadium, well, they need to get used to it. Play cards are going to be used – at times – on the home sideline this year, too.
By Matt Zenitz, al.com:
Derrick Henry had gotten tired of the standard weight lifting and running sessions. Even for just a day, Alabama’s star running back wanted to do something different. That led to Henry heading to a track with his high school coach in mid-May to take part in an outside-the-box workout, one that showed some of the rare strength and physical ability the junior possesses. Wearing a 65-pound weighted vest, Henry lined up behind a Ford F-150 pickup truck — which may weigh more than 6,000 pounds — and pushed the truck down the track, maintaining a light jog while pushing. Still sporting the vest, Henry later moved to the neighboring football field, flipping a monster tire several times in succession while progressively working his way down the field.
By Braulio Perez, nj.com:
Minkah being Minkah. That was a phrase you’d hear all over New Jersey in 2014 when St. Peter’s Prep senior Minkah Fitzpatrick would make one of his eye-opening plays. On offense, the Jersey City product lined up at receiver and caught just about everything Notre Dame freshman Brandon Wimbush threw his way, catching 45 balls for 1,111 yards and 12 touchdowns. On defense, Fitzpatrick showcased his blazing speed to close in on running backs and receivers, recording 70 tackles and three interceptions. He was also known for laying the lumber, which was displayed in one of the first scrimmages of the season on top-ranked DePaul running back Kareem Walker.